MasterChef 2020 recap: We lose a fan favourite in a weird flavour combo challenge

Laura wonders how to make pasta into and ice-cream.
Laura wonders how to make pasta into and ice-cream. Photo: NETWORK 10

For tonight's elimination rounds, the MasterChef kitchen has transformed into a few aisles at Coles, which is a great reminder that I need to pop into Woolies tonight.

The shelves are decorated with little neon lights in the shape of ice-cream cones and sprinkles. Reece has gone all giggly like a schoolgirl and says it's "so cute"; he really wants to show off today.

Emelia and Reynold are safe in the gantry, after Emelia emotionlessly won this week's pressure test and Reynold committed some sort of dessert sorcery in the immunity challenge.

Melissa tells us that there are two rounds, and the first is ice-cream. They have to make two different flavours to go together in one dish, and serve a plate for every judge, because coronavirus. Too bad ice-cream master Benny boy got arrested and kicked out, but that's what happens when you allegedly commit heinous crimes

Jock says it can't just be two scoops, though, it must be an actual dessert, and he wants nothing "safe". Jock says he wants it to "blow his mind", and Laura starts working out how to turn pasta and HP sauce into an ice-cream dish.

Everyone starts racing to the shelves. They each have one glove on one hand as they pick their ingredients, but don't they know that the shopping baskets are the germ hubs in the supermarkets!?

Simon says he wants to do something crazy. Do a poop ice-cream, Simon, I dare you.

Advertisement

Poh has decided to make a strawberry and creme fraiche ice-cream with a wasabi and vanilla ice-cream. Jock looks not into it, but Poh says it's a "rad" combo and she has made it before. You know what's rad? When we left "rad" in the '90s.

Khanh is doing vanilla cardamom and smoked rhubarb ice-cream. He says that desserts frighten him, which we learnt during his dramatic Beauty and the Beast cake he cooked on Thursday, but he says he feels comfortable with ice-cream. Reynold scoffs from the gantry, saying it sounds safe and "isn't wild enough" for him. Sorry not everyone can do science experiments with liquid nitrogen, seven types of sponge and tempered everything, Reynold. Jeez.

Reece is making a fresh mandarin and tarragon sorbet paired with a heavier caramelised white chocolate and miso parfait. He says that this is a challenge he should be good at so if he doesn't do well he deserves to be in round two, simultaneously bragging and negging himself at the same time.

Jess is all about the weird ice-cream flavours she says and is doing licorice dark chocolate with basil. Jock asks her if she's made it before, and Jess says no because she doesn't like licorice. Jock finds this perplexing, but I'm with Jess. Get those black sticks of poison away from me, thanks.

Andy "lets us in on a little secret" that ice-cream is his guilty pleasure. He says he's "a litre in one sitting type of guy" and, well, if we're sharing our emotional eating habits, I'm an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting type of girl.

Tessa is making beetroot and aniseed myrtle for one scoop and tamarind ice-cream for the other. She tells Andy that she knows the flavours well and just has to make sure she balances the sweet and sour. Andy says, "just make it perfect" then walks off like he just dropped the mic.

Andy is really not holding back his inner dweeb tonight, suggesting that the judges do some sort of embarrassing ice-cream chant. Melissa is like, hmm, please don't make me do that. Jock just laughs in Andy's face and says, "Well done mate". Aww, the irreverence is palpable.

One hour to go and Simon is still shopping at bloody Coles! He says that all the choice has given him "flavour block" (which he mansplains is "similar to writer's block" in case it wasn't bleedingly obvious). Jock reminds him that the clock is ticking, "Tick tock, tick tock". Wait, is Ke$ha guest-judging now?!

Simon thinks that cooking "with a memory" will help him create a beautiful well-rounded dish. He gets inspiration from his family trips to a pancake restaurant, which he says was a "massive treat". He is making molasses and peach ice-creams served on pancakes. He says the flavours make sense in his brain, but that his brain is "a whole other kettle of fish", which explains a lot really.

Jock asks Reynold if he wishes he was down there making something. He says no, but thinks it would be fun to do a garlic and miso ice-cream just for Jock, who hates both those flavours. Reynold heckling Jock is the only type of gantry commentary I am here for.

Callum is doing a beetroot and blackberry sorbet with salted pistachio ice-cream. Melissa is dazzled by the pretty colours and forgets to care that pistachio is the most obvious ice-cream flavour in the world and where can she buy a lipstick in the beetroot colour.

Brendan is making a white chocolate and wasabi ice-cream and a parsnip ice-cream, which sounds pretty gross actually. Andy notices that they both look white and asks him if this is intentional. Brendan's like, "sure".

Sarah says she doesn't like eating ice-cream but is finding joy in creating a wacky flavour combo: corn ice-cream and miso ice-cream with a sesame caramel popcorn to tie it together. This does sounds wacky and possibly disgusting, but also possibly delicious.

Tessa wants to add another element to the dish to add complexity so pops into Coles to buy some blackberries. She also starts making meringues so she can make a "teepee" for her ice-cream. I guess this will be a visual thing.

Simon is doing a Poh and starts whispering to his ice-cream machine.

Reece is picking tarragon with tweezers. Jock is impressed that he's very calm, pointing to Brendan's bench which has crap everywhere and is surrounded by spoons on the floor. Reece waves goodbye to Jock with his tweezers, "boy, byeee!"

Andy tells Khanh that he got his phone out and in-between scrolling through Facebook and checking Tinder he "Googled rhubarb and cardamom ice-cream" and the hits were "endless". This is Andy's convoluted way of saying that Khanh's flavour combination is too safe, and good for you for using more than one word, Andy. Khanh takes the hint and heads back to Coles to pick up some bay leaves. He thinks this will add the extra element he needs.

10 minutes to go. Poh has added what looked like an entire tube of wasabi, but has a try of her ice-cream and says it tastes, "dead". I'm not sure what this means, but it can't be good.

She adds more wasabi and hopes for the best. It won't taste dead now, but it may just make Jock pass away.

Melissa shouts, "this might be an ice-cream challenge, but it's no time to chill!" and Andy gets why she didn't want to do his ice-cream chant.

Time is up and if someone could please tell me how they are all going to serve their ice-creams one after another without them all melting that would be great because it's really bugging me.

Tessa is up first with her anise myrtle with beetroot and tamarind ice-creams that she has covered in her meringue teepee sticks. It looks a bit strange to me, but Jock says he loves it. He says that tamarind ice-cream is weird on its own (it's not, but okay), but together "give me more". Andy says the flavour combo is "bang on", of course, and Melissa says she liked the teepee sticks because the meringue brings everything together.

Poh is up next. She presents her "not-normal Neapolitan ice-cream" and Melissa says "not much about you is normal". Harsh, but very, very fair. Jock says that the creme fraiche one is "pinging with strawberry flavour", but the wasabi one was jarring and he didn't love it. We don't hear what anyone else thinks, because Jock knows all.

Andy asks Reece what he's "cooked", forgetting that this is an ice-cream challenge. The judges taste his mandarin and tarragon ice-cream with caramelised white chocolate miso parfait and verjuice granita.

Andy says he hopes mandarin, tarragon, miso and verjuice are on his shopping list because he is going to go home and make that ice-cream. He knows he is in control of his own shopping list, right? He also says he likes the pop of "salted caramel" and either Andy is making up flavours or I got bored and missed that element. Could be either. Melissa does some inside dancing joke that I don't understand, but appears to be very funny to the rest of the contestants.

Khanh serves up his smoked rhubarb and bay leaf ice-cream with cardamom and vanilla ice-cream with a chocolate ganache and salted crumb, whatever that means. Jock gives the rhubarb ice-cream, "two thumbs up", the cardamom ice-cream "three thumbs up" and the combination "four thumbs up". The extra thumbs he counts are for Andy's who he uses as a puppet in this show.

Melissa says she is a fan of accessories and the accessories gave this dish the edge it needed to be fully complete. And also can she get his dish made into earrings?

Sarah Tiong brings her sweet corn and miso ice-creams served with charred corn, sesame caramel popcorn, and nori. Even though Sarah Clare has long gone, everyone seems to still call Sarah Tiong by her full name. Andy says it was "bangin", Melissa says it was "synergy"; it's just a standard day in the office, isn't it?

Laura has made a roast fig ice-cream and toasted wattleseed ice-cream, served with honey milk skins, prickly pear jelly and caramelised chocolate. Melissa says it is "clearly and utterly you" because of the bitterness of the wattleseed and fig. So Melissa thinks Laura is bitter then, what's the tea?

Callum served his salted pistachio ice-cream with beetroot parfait, gin poached beetroot and a chocolate cremaux. Andy says the pistachio ice-cream is textbook but as a whole it lacked acidity. I wonder how many hits he would have found if he Googled pistachio ice-cream? Just sayin'.

Melissa says Brendan's white chocolate and wasabi ice-cream and parsnip ice-cream needed to go back to the drawing board. Nobody says "I'll pass on the parsnip", which feels like a great opportunity lost.

Simon brings his pancakes with molasses ice-cream, caramelised peach ice-cream, peach caramel, dark chocolate and almond crumble. Jock says the molasses overpowered the peach, and also he just didn't like it.

Jess has named her dish "the grass is greener on the other side" and everyone else is wondering if they were also meant to give their ice-creams philosophical titles. She has covered her chocolate licorice ice-cream in brown and wild rice tuiles and served the basil ice-cream on cocoa nibs. Melissa says the chocolate licorice was velvety and fudgy but the basil ice-cream needed more flavour. Andy says he "struggled to pick up the basil ice-cream and just couldn't find it". Use a spoon and on the plate, I would guess?

Judging is over and Brendan, Jess, Callum, Simon and ~~insert ad-break here~~ Poh are in the bottom five. For round two (yes, this thing is still going!), the judges have picked five unusual flavour pairings: lamb and coffee; basil and peanut butter; dark chocolate and soy; mustard and mint; or carrot and raspberry. They need to pick a pair and use it in a dish. They can cook anything they want but Andy says the flavour pair has to be "front and centre".

Poh picked mustard and mint because she has an Italian dish in mind, tortelli di zucca, a northern Italian pasta dish made with pumpkin and amaretti biscuits. She says she hopes to tug at Jock's "little Italian heart strings", and looks like she finally learnt a few tricks from old mate Laura. She tells us a pointless elaborate story about how she came across this dish because of some violin maker in Italy whose mother-in-law bailed on her cooking lesson. Anyway all this is to say, she went to Italy once.

The judges talk about what they would make. Jock brags he could make anything with the combos except for the carrot and raspberry pairing, and only a crazy person would choose that one. Surprise! Jess has chosen carrot and raspberry and is making a mulled wine raspberry sorbet with chocolate mousse, cumquat orange jam and a carrot sphere. Someone please tell Jess to make literally any other shape than a sphere, please spare us the spheres!

Brendan has chosen peanut and basil and is cooking bang bang chicken, poached chicken, tossed in a Chinese-style satay sauce. The basil will be in a refreshing salad on top. Andy reckons he is playing it safe. Brendan says he just "needs to believe in his ability" and decides to politely ignore Andy's thoughts.

Simon the vegetarian is taking a risk and doing lamb and coffee. He tells Jock and Andy that he is making a coffee sable served with hibachi-grilled lamb and a coffee jus, though he pronounces it "juice". Jock looks confused about the sable, and Simon says it will be more like a cracker. Jock still doesn't understand why anyone would want their lamb served with a cracker and, well, yeah Simon.

Callum has chosen mustard and mint. He is roasting a cauliflower steak and serving it with a dhal mustard and a mint and coriander chutney. He says he is not worrying about technique, but just going to make something delicious. Wonder how long it will take for him to bring up his wife and newborn baby? Oop there it is! Backstory of death.

For once, Poh is ahead of time. She says she "feels weird about it". Yeah, Poh, it's called being calm, you should try it more often.

Meanwhile, I think Jess may have lost it. Turns out her carrot spheres are going to be jelly bubbles that will burst in your mouth. Carrot bubbles do not sound good, but you do you, girl.

She has a lot to get on the plate so is double-fisting her beating, mixing the cream in one hand and the chocolate in the other.

Simon has decided to ditch his coffee cracker idea after hearing Jock's disgust and is just making a coffee sauce instead. He is also going to add a roast coffee glaze to the lamb as it cooks. Jock comes over to try it and says he can't taste coffee on the lamb. Simon is like, well get a load of the coffee in my sauce, but Jock still isn't convinced. Seven minutes to go and Simon decides to make a coffee crumble with almonds as a last ditch effort.

Jess puts her jelly carrot spheres into a "sodium alginate bath". Nobody explains what this is so I will just go ahead and assume it is not available at Coles.

Simon says he feels "flat", apparently not as flat as Poh, who is crying for some reason even though her tortelli look perfect and she actually had a good cook?

Callum tells the judges his roasted cauliflower with dhal mustard and mint and ginger chutney was inspired by new year's eve, when he and his wife cooked themselves a six course meal because they had a newborn baby at home. Jocks cleans up his plate and says it's the best cauliflower he has had in years. Andy says it's beautiful and harmonious and the best food he's cooked yet. Go Callum! Your wife and baby will be proud.

Simon walks over next, buzzing off of all the caffeine he just ingested. He says "it would suck to go home". His lamb plate actually looks pretty nice and Andy says the lamb was cooked perfectly, but the crumb was "hectic" and "did some damage to his palate". Wowza. Jock says "it feels heavy, dank and musty, and I feel depressed after eating it". Jeez, and I thought my recaps were savage.

Brendan brings over his bang bang chicken or as he likes to call it, Pang Pang chicken (because his name is Brendan Pang, if you're not an Instagram stalker like me). Andy says he forgot he was a judge for a moment and that it "packs a punch". Surprised he didn't use this as a moment to say it's "Pangin'". Shame. Jock says the peanut and basil are front and centre. Melissa says food like that makes this job the best job in the world. Braggy much?

Poh arrives and Jock says he noticed that she was "emotionally sideways" at the end of the cook, which is a weird way to say she was crying. She is worried that this might be the end of the road for her, which quite clearly it's not as she plates up her perfect-looking pumpkin tortelli.

Jock loves it and says it is like a warm hug from nonna. It's perfectly executed and he can't pick a fault. Melissa says the mustard and the mint are there, but really harmonious and perhaps this is the first time Melissa has stolen a word from Andy?

Jess serves the judges her shiraz berry sorbet with milk chocolate mousse, cumquat and orange jam and carrot gels. She is worried she hasn't used enough raspberries in her dish.

Jock agrees and says the red wine is too strong. He says the carrot gel didn't work out (it looks more like a weird ladle of watery liquid) and it's not pleasant to eat. Melissa says the key elements are not standing out like they should. Uh oh, baby Jess is in trouble folks.

So Brendan, Callum and Poh are safe.

It's down to Jess and Simon and probably for the first time this series I actually don't know who will go home. For Simon's dish, Jock says that the coffee was dialled up 10 times too much (how awkward for Jock, who told him to do exactly that).

He says that Jess' concept was strong, but it tasted more of red wine and orange than carrot and raspberry. Jess missed the brief, which is why she is going home. Jess get's "emotionally sideways" and it's really, really awkward that no one can hug her right now.

Andy tells her that she is amazing and this is just the start. Jess is devastated that she only made it halfway, but really thankful. Melissa says she wishes they could give her a hug, but gives her a cringey elbow bump instead. Jess says she is going to make her dreams come true, and you go girl, just never serve me a carrot gel thanks.

Read the rest of our MasterChef recaps here and follow Eloise Basuki on Twitter @eloise_baz.